(May 31, 2021)—The 2021 season of our Preservation Archaeology Field School just started, and it’s great to be back in New Mexico with this year’s students.
Some things look a little different this year—we worked on COVID protocols with the University of Arizona to keep everyone safe this summer—and some of our activities have shifted a bit. Luckily, our relatively remote location and the fact that we’re outdoors almost all the time mean we’ve been able to find ways to continue many of our usual activities.
We exchanged some of our indoor activities for outdoor ones during our course introduction in Tucson this year. We were able to visit Allen Denoyer’s reconstruction of a Hohokam pithouse at Steam Pump Ranch and a ballcourt site at Catalina State Park, which everyone enjoyed. We also took a drive up Mount Lemmon just outside Tucson so that students could experience the different Southwestern environmental zones. Some of our students this year come from places as far away as China, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Maine, so this trip let everyone get a sense of the different environments in our region and the resources people would have used in these diverse areas in the distant past.
We’ve eased into our fieldwork outside Cliff, New Mexico, over the past few days, starting with some site tours and lectures on our first day here. For the last two days, we’ve spent the mornings starting our excavations at the Gila River Farm site. Yesterday afternoon was spent in one of potter Andy Ward’s excellent classes on how to make pottery with the same techniques and materials as the ancient potters in the Salado era (1300–1450+ CE) archaeological site we are working at.
This afternoon we’re in Silver City doing laundry and stocking up on food for next week’s lunches. We’ll be starting our first full day of fieldwork tomorrow, and everyone is excited to get into the swing of things. Over the next six weeks or so we’ll be sharing blog posts from our students on what they’re seeing, learning, and experiencing. We’re looking forward to a great field season, and to sharing some of its highlights with you.